The Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway will be renamed The Lena Horne Theatre this fall, after the legendary entertainer and civil rights activist Lena Horne, the Nederlander Organization, which owns the theater, announced Thursday.
The theater, located at 246 West 47th Street, is the first Broadway theater to be named in honor of a Black woman. Horne worked alongside Eleanor Roosevelt to enact anti-lynching legislation and reject racial segregation.
The theater was originally named after Brooks Atkinson, a theater critic who worked at The New York Times from 1922 to 1960.
“We are proud to take this moment to rename one of our theaters in honor of the great civil rights activist, actress and entertainer Lena Horne,” James Nederlander of the Nederlander Organization said in a press release.
In 1981, James Nederlander’s father served as the lead producer of "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," a musical that played in the Nederlander Theatre. The successful show was extended for a full-year run and was the winner of a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards cast recording of her show.
“I am honored to have known Lena. She became part of our family over the years,” Nederlander said. “It means so much to me that my father was the producer of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, and it is my privilege, honor and duty to memorialize Lena for generations to come.”
Horne was an artist from Brooklyn who performed in various films including "Panama Hattie," "Stormy Weather" and "Cabin in the Sky." She was the first Black person elected to serve under the Screen Actors Guild board of directors and became the first Black woman to be nominated for a “Best Actress in a Musical” Tony Award. Several of her films required re-editing when shown in cities that would not show films with black performers.
“As a daughter of Brooklyn, a civil rights leader, an artist, and an activist, there is no one who embodies the spirit of this great city more than Lena Horne,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a press release. “With this renaming, an iconic New Yorker will rightly take her place amongst an iconic New York industry while being introduced to new generations as they visit this beautiful theater.”